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Resources: BBC and Yellowstone National Park audio libraries.

The BBC and Yellowstone National Park have both recently released extensive archives of sound effects into the public domain; you never know when you might have occasion to know the exact sound of a grizzly crunching bison bones, the klaxon of a Romanian trolleybus, a shot from an 1870 17-bore twin-barrel shotgun, or the moaning of a frozen lake as the ice reacts to temperature fluctuations:

Can someone go to prison without it becoming public knowledge?

Furthermore, can a criminal case ever be handled confidentially without news of their arrest being made public under a plea of guilt? I'm writing a story where a character, who committed multiple crimes including first-degree manslaughter in his teenage years, turns himself in at the age of 18. The setting of the story is Tokyo, Japan, present day, and the catch is that he was presumed dead until he pledged guilty. I'm wondering if there's a believable way for news of his arrest, conviction and sentence to remain strictly confidential instead of being made public (so that nobody else in the story is made aware that he's indeed alive until later on). I should also mention that the character used to be a public figure and the crimes he committed were crimes against the country in the form of a string of serial murders, but he was working as a hit man under someone else's thumb. If it helps, the story includes a Supernatural element, and the crimes the character committed took place in this "other-world," which could very well be a closely guarded Government secret. I'm wondering if my character could ask that his record be sealed as a condition for his guilty plea, or if, due to the highly sensitive subject matter surrounding the entire case, the government would want to keep the details strictly under wraps. That said, the character's crimes are severe, and considering they affect Japan as a whole in the story, I'm not certain if there's any realistic way I can write his sentencing off as something that's kept on the hush-hush? In simpler terms, I wanted to write this in a way that the character continues to remain presumed dead to those outside of the legal sphere that deal with his direct arrest.

I've been trying to look this up and coming up short. I've looked up various variations of this question on google ranging from "can a prisoner forgo a trial" to "can a prisoner request a private court case?" to "how plea bargains get made". I've looked at the article "Is a Plea Bargain Public Record?" on and the general specifics of the Japanese Judicial System on I even tried looking up "the nature of court cases that are closed off to the public" and "exceptions to the rule that states most legal proceedings should be public." I might be failing to word my questions correctly, but they feel very hyper-specific and difficult to pin down, which is why I couldn't find any exact answers to my question through research.

I really hope someone has an answer! Thank you.

Beverages in the Emirate of Cordoba

Hi everyone! I was researching whether tea was known in the Emirate of Cordoba, a Medieval Islamic kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, but found info that both tea and coffee came to Europe through Islamic lands much later. What were people drinking back then, though? I'd be grateful if you pointed out where I could read about it.
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Resource: an essay on experiencing hurricanes.

This comes courtesy of Florida resident mylordshesacactus on Tumblr; here are some excerpts:

Do not think for a moment that just because you’re “only” experiencing Cat 1 winds that this storm can’t kill your ass dead. Do not underestimate what the death throes of a dying god can do.

In hurricane-prone areas, the threat is felt year-round.

All the major intersections? Our stoplights aren’t hung on wires from wooden poles–those blow down too easily. They’re bolted to thick metal pipes, “hurricane-proof”. Major roadways that are above floodlines are labelled as evacuation routes.

Things like that.

(Remember–by the time a storm “makes landfall,” everything for miles around has been experiencing the storm for hours already. “Landfall” is when the EYE of the storm first hits land, not when the storm “arrives”.)

But hurricanes are…vast. Look up satellite footage of hurricanes. Really look at it. Look at how much sheer area they cover.

Most places do not experience landfall-level disaster. That’s why, when people evacuate–well, when residents evacuate, the tourists and recent transplants tend to panic harder–you’re basically always evacuating to someplace that will still have vanished under that mass of swirling clouds. Evacuation sites are still inside the hurricane, but wind speed, storm surge, etc–everything drops dramatically even a few miles from the eye.

being gay in the uk in 1982 (early days of the aides crisis.)

i’m currently writing a story about a 22 year old bisexual man in early 1982 london. he's very involved in gay liberation and women's rights movements and street activism (participates in marches and volunteer work etc) and in the lgbt scene at the time. he's a member of a small time classic rock band that plays in college parties and bars and such.

the story im writing doesn't have a lot of plot per se, it's mostly a meandering day to day life story about a bisexual young man in 1982 london. i have a number of questions that i couldn't find the answer to: when did the disease start to affect the day to day life of a gay man in london? when did it become a topic of conversation, when did people start dying at a noticeable rate for the average gay man, and what were the effects that it had in how the community moved during that time? did people stop going to gay clubs and bars or did the flow dip and rise over time? when did people begin spreading information about safe sex and protected sex, and what were the ways people spread that information? Pamphlets, papers, magazines? was it distributed by gay rights activists or organizations before the government started educating people on aides in ‘86? i read it was officially named ‘the gay plague’ for a period of six months in ‘82, but not when it was first called that and when it was officially renamed aides, and whether the newspapers reported on it during that time at all.

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canon error

Proper forms of address and accurate starting salaries in Edwardian England and other miscellanery

Setting: London, UK circa 1904-1905

Research so far: Googled 'salaries for clerical workers, Edwardian England' and found this. It gave me median salaries, but not the range. Also, it doesn't give me a year-by-year overview, but rather looks at the salaries once every decade or so. And since my character is newly-hired, it's reasonable to presume he'd be earning considerably less than the median.

I have a father and son who have just been hired by a London bank. The son (aged 14) will be working as a messenger/errand boy. The father will be a clerk.

1. I was going to have the father's job be basically copying out documents by hand, but I'm seeing that typewriters and carbon paper existed at that point, so now I'm wondering how likely it would be that the bank would be using those, still going with handwritten copies, or both. (After all, the TV was invented in 1926; that doesn't mean everyone had one in their home by 1928.) I can go either way, as long as I know what it is.
2. What would a fair starting salary be for an inexperienced clerk? (Weekly and annually; I'm not so confident in my understanding of £sd to be able to do the math for myself). If it was common to be paid less during a probationary period on the understanding that there would be an increase after 3-6 months assuming the employee was kept on, how big a jump are we talking?
3. How would father and son be addressed, both by peers and subordinates? Would one be Mr. Smith and the other Master? Or would it just be the surname? And if it's just the surname, how would it be handled if both were present in the room?

Wound care in regency England

Hello! I was just wondering if anyone would happen to know anything about wound care towards the end of the regency period, round about 1820. I have two characters, both medical students at Oxford University (so they have some medical training/knowledge), one of whom has received a deep cut on the chest from a sharp ring in a fight - the kind that would require stiches today. What I'm trying to work out is how they would go about treating that sort of thing.

From my Google research so far I've found that proper sterilization was developed rather later, around the 1880s. So, with the stitches I'm mostly wondering whether they would know to boil the needle/scissors etc., and could they use alcohol to clean the wound? Leeches? I've found quite a lot about medicine in general during the regency period online but I'm struggling a bit to find anything that seems relevant for this exact situation. Much of what I've found so far focuses either on the later Victorian era or the 18th century.

Thank you very much in advance!
Norrell jsmn

Regency letter-writing--bread-and-butter boring business letters?


Fanfic, set in the British Regency, slash pairing, letters between a gentleman and the man he sends out to buy books.  The gentleman is well-off, and the man is from his household, so there isn't an issue with costs for paper, ink, or postage. Neither of them are at all overtly sentimental,  and I love writing covert-declarations-and-bawdy-insinuations-between-the-lines stories. 

Search terms tried and what I've found so far:

"Regency letter-writing", "letter-writing in Jane Austen's time", "nineteenth century business letters" "Regency business letters" (even if I do an exact string search for the latter I'm not successful)

Conventions of writing, crossing, addressing, payment by recipient--interesting as far as it goes 

Physical visual examples which I can find on the web might be ideal except that I can't read whatever hand they wrote (copperplate?) with the ink faded in a tightly-packed and sometimes crossed format. 

Because there's so many people writing Regency romance after the style of Austen or Heyer, and because there's a lot of people wanting to write letters of consequence (and a lot of remaining letters written about big events) there's a very strong preponderance of detail involving letters about feelings or major events. I'm really looking for the opposite of that--the appropriate Regency style, but something dull I can mess about with. 

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[ FFVII ; Rufus ; Don't touch my hair ]
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Christmas Decorations in Nassau, Bahamas?

Hi everyone! I'm writing a story where two characters from the UK go on a trip (separately) over the Christmas holidays to Nassau and meet each other. I have never been to Nassau myself, especially not during the holidays, and I just wanted to know what sorts of decorating people there do. Both in public spaces as well as in hotels/resorts. I've done my google due diligence ("Christmas in the Bahamas" and other variations gets you a lot of advertisements for trips rather than information on what it's like), looked at the Bahamas tourism website (unfortunately not very helpful, any photos focused mostly on Junkanoo).

I've looked through at least a dozen random people's videos of their trips to the Bahamas for Christmas on YouTube, but none of them really focus on their surroundings since they're more home videos rather than informational, and a lot of them were cruise passengers on ships, and I am more interested in Nassau itself. I did see white lights strung around the trunks of palm trees in the background of one video, but I wasn't sure if that was a specifically Christmas thing or if that restaurant just had lights around their trees.

I do know about the Junkanoo parade and have seen videos of that (very neat!). I just want to know if there's any other decorations. Strings of lights, ornaments, a palm tree Christmas tree to appeal to tourists? Or is it different based on their own culture and less on the traditional Western European idea of Christmas decorating?

Thanks in advance!